View Full Version : Lens board material

20-Dec-2003, 21:09
I found info on Pho**.N** about lensboard material and happened to be in Albuquerque Friday so I went to two Home Depots and a Lowes. None of them had anything remotely resembling what I needed in the width I needed under 4x8 feet. I want to sandwich two 1/8 inch pieces of ply wood together so I can get the correct shape needed for the board. I figured sandwiching, crossing the grain would add stability too. Since neither store had 1/8 ply wood in anything less than 4x8 I am at a loss as to what to use. Is there another type of board I can use. I do not want to use any other material than wood because I do not have the tools nor the access to the tools to work with metal, or plastic. The camera I am mounting this on is a 5x7 2d.

I'm at a loss, any advice will be welcome

John Kasaian
20-Dec-2003, 21:29

I've used baltic birch plywood with good results, if you have a fine wood shop that sells wood to furniture makers and hobbyists in your area, they might have some scraps that someone can cut to your specs(even a half or quarter sheet "project board" can get pricey---but hey, its good stuff!) Either that or cultivate a friendship with a local high school woodshop teacher! OTOH, Kodak D2 lensboards shouldn't be all that expensive---try www.equinoxphotographic.com or midwest photo.---Cheers!

Gary Samson
20-Dec-2003, 21:36

If you have a good hobby store nearby they will have a stock of high quality plywood for model building in a variety of thicknesses and lengths. Or you could order it from a place like Tower Hobbies over the internet.

neil poulsen
20-Dec-2003, 22:41
I use the same board to which Gary refers, in 1/8th inch 6"x12" sheets. It works great for lensboards. I glue two together, one smaller than the other, to get the stair stepping on the edge with acts as a better light-tight board.

Also consider getting some Minwax stain to match the color of the camera's wood. The grain of the wood isn't very appealing, so I give it a good heavy coat, let it dry thoroughly, and then apply a Deft spray on clear lacquer.

Paul Kierstead
21-Dec-2003, 01:00
Well, one thing you don't need to worry about with plywood is crossing the grain for stability. Plywood is made up of multiple layers with the grain already crossed and is highly stable in all available thicknesses.

Home Depot here sells plywood in much smaller sizes, but it isn't in the aisle with the other plywood; it is typically in the aisle with hardwoods and hobby woods. Usually 4x4 and maybe 2x4 sizes are available. Did you ask a worker?

If that fails, if you have a friend with a router and a router table, it is trivial to route a small step in the lensboard in 1/4" ply.

Bill Jefferson
21-Dec-2003, 05:22
Mark, I found a local lumber yard that cut 6x6 lens boards for me out of scrap plywood. cost $20.00 for 6

Tim Curry
21-Dec-2003, 05:31
If there isn't a hobby shop in your neighborhood, try a cabinet maker's shop. Any local woodworker may have a few scraps of baltic birch in 3mm (1/8") or 6mm (1/4"). It is used for drawer bottoms in some shops. I would stay away from 1/8" door skin materials, they are usually too soft to stand up to much lens mounting and unmounting in a camera.

If nothing else, a cabinet shop can cut a piece of 1/4" to size and route the edge as has been suggested. If you decide to have this done, make sure to have the camera with you so they can check the fit once the part is made. This setup can be done on a router of small table saw.

A cheap alternative can be 1/4" masonite or two layers of 1/8" masonite glued together then bored for the lens. A copal "0" lens will fit into a hole bored with the cutter that is used for the recess in the back of a door for the "european" style of hinge (Blum, Grass, etc.)

21-Dec-2003, 06:39
I've used everything from wooden crates to beech. The pine crates seemed like a great thing. Cheap [they were going into the trash] almost the exact width I needed. thin enough to not need any major work. Just cut to size, rabbet and drill the hole. Put everything together and everything seemed perfect. Until I pointed the lens outdoors on a bright sunny day. When I climbed under the dark cloth I noticed a glow. The wood wasn't really light proof. The magical invention duct tape came to the rescue and blocked the light off. Those boards actually work fine now. I won't call them pretty.

I then decided to pull a board out from the wood pile. The beach was pretty close in width. Too thick for lenses with shutters but fine for barrel lenses. A bit of quick and dirty work with the bandsaw and the board was ready for drilling. This tree must have grown on soil laced with heavy metals. The hardest bit of drilling I've ever seen. This with a fair sized drill press. Well when the board was finally finished it worked great.

Lensboards aren't exactly large users of wood. If you know anybody that does wood work they likely have a scrap that will be big enough. Next choice would be a real lumber yard. It'll be rough so you need to be able to handle the surfacing. You likely could get a board long enough to make a lifetimes of lensboards for not much money. The last choice would be place like HD. They sell surfaced boards for fairly hefty amounts of money. Might be cheaper to buy a premade board.

BTW Aren't most plastic worked with wood working tools?

John Cook
21-Dec-2003, 06:59
If you want to order it by mail, (my favorite haunt) Lee Valley has it:


Garry Teeple
21-Dec-2003, 07:25
I've had good luck building them from 1/8" tempered masonite. The masonite won't chip off as easy as plywood but it can get frayed and leave a little dust.

Donald Miller
21-Dec-2003, 08:06
I make mine from 5/32 birch plywood. My lumber yard has a bin that has wood in various dimensions and sizes. I cut my overall dimensions first then with a table saw cut the relief on the back side. As someone else mentioned there is no need to glue plywood to cross grain (already done in mfg). The additional 1/32 in thickness does not affect the board since the additional thickness extends back into the camera.

Jeff Buckels
21-Dec-2003, 08:50
Mark: They have a reasonable selection of these woods mentioned in the previous responses at Southwest Hobby on Wyoming. -jb

Jim Galli
21-Dec-2003, 10:40
I was helping a neighbor clean up a vacant lot he had inherited from his dad. We threw an old desk from the 1960's in for it's final trip. I noticed the drawer sides were of fine hardwood. Ash. And the bottoms of the drawers were perfect width birch veneer plywood for lens boards. Dagor 77 sent me 2 ground glasses packed in 1/4" stuff like pegboard. Can't think of the name. Made several 4X4 boards out of it. Painted flat black.

21-Dec-2003, 14:01
PAUL--I did ask for help and was shown stuff like you mentioned. But at all three places the 1/8th stuff was out. Oh well should have gotten the 1/4. Since I do not live in or Near albuquerque-3 hour drive just to get there-The fact that a shipment was coming in really did not do me any good. Tried the hobby lobby on Juan Tabo and they were out too. There was a place for it though.

JEFF--Doh! forgot all about Southwest hobbies.

Thanks folks I will be haunting a couple of lumber stores in Gallup Monday. Lots of great ideas. I know they have masonite(I think that is what peg board is made from right?) I just want to get shooting.

The reason I was going to cross the grain was I am just anal and it pisses me off when something I make warps or splits. You are probably right and I do not need to worry about it. Living and working in the boonies like I do makes it difficult to get things like this right when I need it.

21-Dec-2003, 18:14
I made several out of oak once and glued them cross grained and they still warpped. Took a day or two for it to show up but it happened. I made some out of 3/4" mahogany and used a router table to shave off the amount needed to seat it in the lens board that board never has warpped and is still in use today after about 12 years. I finished the boards with stain on the front and varnish and black paint on the back.


Sergio Caetano
21-Dec-2003, 18:35

As you can see there are many options for that. I think the best is aluminum , I have some made with it but, at least in my case, I've needed to ask for a machinist with adequated skill and tools. In the DIY mode I've made some with fenolite, it is a material used in electronic goods, it is a mix of resin and paper. Good resistance and easy to work with. Easy to find in electronics stuff stores.

Henry Ambrose
21-Dec-2003, 20:18
If you don't find what you need, email me directly and I'll send you enough 1/8 inch birch plywood to make your lensboard.

Ernest Purdum
21-Dec-2003, 20:46
If you'd like something a little prettier, www.micro-mark.com has various woods, including mahogany. in sizes from 1/32 X 3 X 24" up to 3/8" thick. You can make a very original looking lensboard with these and the prices are in the $5.00/sheet area.